Lecture series set to honor late professor


From left, Robert Valentine celebrates “Doc” McGaughey’s entry into Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame (File photo).

Erinn Finley, News Editor

When faculty were looking for a way to honor the late Robert “Doc” McGaughey, who was passionate about press freedom and responsibility, some thought a lecture series would best commemorate his legacy.

The inaugural McGaughey Lecture on Press Freedom and Responsibility will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Robert Valentine, retired lecturer in advertising, worked under McGaughey when he was the department chair for the Journalism and Mass Communications department. Valentine was the chair of the lecture’s planning committee.

Valentine said when McGaughey was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012, he reflected on the beginning of digital mass communication. 

“[He said] when the medium does not require you to take responsibility for what you say, nor does it assume responsibility for the consequences of what you say, everything that has defended the free press up until this time falls apart,” Valentine said.  “And he was, as it turns out, spot on.”

Kyser Lough, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Georgia, is one of the board members for the organizing committee Valentine put together. He studied under McGaughey during his undergraduate years at Murray State.  

The committee decided to have Marc Murphy be the guest speaker for this inaugural lecture. 

He is a lawyer and political cartoonist, who often appears in The Louisville Courier. Lough said he thinks political cartoons are an interesting and powerful part of journalism, acting as a way to hold those in power accountable. 

“I think it’s such a unique way to kick off this lecture series on press freedom and responsibility because the opinion pages are one of those important areas where we have been able to express ourselves, especially as citizens,” Lough said. 

Lough also spoke about his excitement to have Murphy speak at the lecture.

“He [Murphy] is a tremendous political cartoonist,” Lough said. ”His work is very impactful and powerful. Being able to have him come in and talk about that, I think, is going to be a really wonderful way to kick off this series.” 

Ann Landini, a retired professor of journalism , knew McGaughey during her student and professional years. He was made chair of the department when she was a graduate student, she studied under him and she was later hired by him.

Landini said she thought McGaughey would appreciate this lecture. 

“I think Doc would be quite honored to have this lecture done in his honor, memory—however you want to phrase it,” Landini said. “He was a true proponent of a free and fair press. Very supportive of student media. I think he would be flattered to have a lecture named for him.”

McGaughey spent much of his career at Murray State. 

McGaughey completed both his undergraduate and graduate degree at the University. His undergraduate degree was in history and journalism. He received the first journalism Master of Science at Murray State. He was also an adviser to The News starting in 1969.

He obtained his doctoral degree at Ohio University before coming back to work for Murray State and eventually becoming the department chair. 

“He [McGaughey] was an outstanding teacher,” Landini said. “He was a fantastic classroom teacher,” Landini said. 

She said he had a way of breaking up his lectures with topics that were related to the class and gave the students a chance to take a break and stay engaged. 

“It kept you on your toes because it was usually funny, it was usually insightful and it was something that you always remembered when you left class,” Landini said. 

McGaughey won multiple awards for his teaching over the years. 

“He was a phenomenal teacher who cared about the profession,” Lough said. “He cared about his students. He cared about teaching.” 

 McGaughey was the chair of the department for 23 years. Landini said McGaughey demanded a lot from his faculty, but he also made the department a fun place to work. Landini said McGaughey was the one who led to the journalism department becoming nationally accredited. She said it was important to have an accredited department because they were trying to train students to be the best of journalism. 

Landini said she thought the topic of press freedom and responsibility was an important one for journalism students. 

“Without a free press, you could not have an informed populace,” Landini said.“We’re fortunate in our country that we do have a free press, but with that freedom comes responsibility, and I’m afraid that in today’s environment, we have some media organizations who don’t take the responsibility they have to the public as seriously as they need to.”

The lecture will be in Lovett Auditorium at 7 p.m and is free and open to the public.